Category Archives: Business Executive Coach

Business Executive Coach – We provide executives with the constant support necessary to transform great ideas into even better companies.

Business Coaching & Executive Strategies

Strategies that get results

We’ve been there, done that. We’ve launched successful ventures, and created a few whoppers along the way. We’ve learned from our mistakes and we pass that onto to you.

Often it’s the small actions you take that can set your company apart from the competition. We help you think beyond dollars and cents to what you truly can offer your customers: Why would someone want to buy from you? What is your key differentiation on the competitive landscape? Do you have a defensible position? What can you learn from your competitors?

We’d love to hear your story

Business Planning, Strategy Formulation & Executive Coaching.

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My first day in prison

There are times in one’s life when you have to wonder what led you to this moment and place?  How did you get here? As the large steel door slammed shut behind me – separating me from the outside free world – I had to wonder about the choices that had landed me in prison.

To say that entering prison was intimidating would be an understatement.  Prison was hardcore.  In California, if you are sentenced to less than a year you go to jail.   If you are sentenced to more than a year, then its prison. A much meaner, tougher environment. I was in prison.  I had to surrender all of my personal belongs, give up my cell phone and was searched from head to toe.  It’s the guard’s job was to ensure that nothing came into the prison that wasn’t supposed to.

Once I was processed, I  was escorted to an empty room and left alone for what felt like an eternity.  The silence was deafening.  Every door I had gone through had been securely locked behind me, there was no escape.  Then without warning, the door burst open and two armed guards entered followed by a large man in a suit.

I held my breath and waited.

The guards said nothing and simply stood to the side.  They too waited on the large man.  In prison there is a lot of waiting, but what does it matter?  You’re not going anywhere.  The large man in the suit thrust out his hand and said, “We are so glad you are here, we’ve heard good things.  You OK? you look a little nervous…”

Nervous?  Of course not.  I am in prison, the doors keep locking behind me and I half expect to meet Hannibal Lector at any moment.  “The lambs Clarice, the lambs…” I smiled and simply shook my head, I was fine I muttered.

To be fair, let me explain why I was in prison.  I had been a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley and sold my last company.  I was ready or inclined to do another start up, so I began teaching entrepreneurship at the Renaissance Center for Entrepreneurs.   After a few years, I was invited to participate in a pilot program to teach entrepreneurship to inmates who were facing re-entry into society.  And while I had been teaching future business leaders the ins and outs of break even analysis for several years, this somehow felt different. Probably because, well, I was in PRISON.

I worked in that prison for 2 years.  Everyone has a story and everyone is innocent.  California’s recidivism rate is 65 percent – which means the more than 6 out 10 inmates will be re-incarcerated within 3 years.  My job was to improve that number by offering an alternative.  If you go back on the street with no skills, you will be back.  We couldn’t change people but we could offer a different path to those who truly did not want to come back.

I learned a lot in prison.  There are many bad people who belong in prison, but there are those who either made bad choices or simply were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Over the years we had our success stories.  James launched a successful construction business and made it a point to hire former inmates when possible.

Sam spent 40 years in prison and took my class at the age of 60. His entire adult life had been spent in prison.  But it wasn’t time completely lost.  Her learned how to cook.  We helped him launch a catering business and today he employs 20 people.

Sadly, there are heartbreaks, too.  Carlo was incarcerated at the age of 18 for murder while on drugs – which he committed and rightfully he served 25 years behind bars – his entire adult life.   Carlo was a quiet man who happened to be an amazing artist.  His dream was to create children’s coloring books featuring prominent African Americans.  He was in our program for 6 months and was a star pupil.  We were able to arrange for a grant for working capital so that he dream could be a reality.  He was our poster child for re-entry.

Carlo had a grown daughter that he desperately wanted to reconnect with.  But she wanted no part of a man that had ruined her mother’s life and whom she had never met.  Within two weeks of leaving prison, Carlo met and married a woman.  But coloring books do pay bills, at least not initially. He also couldn’t find a day job because of his prison record.  Not many folks want to hire a murderer regardless of whether he paid his debt to society.  With no money and no prospects, his new marriage crumbled and Carlo started using, again.  Within 3 months of his release, Carlo was back in prison where he will likely be for the rest of his life.

They say prison changes a man.  I here to tell you it does.  I saw people overcome adversity that would crush you and I.  And sadly, I saw people like Carlo that never stood a chance.  But as I had learned on “If you change one life, help one soul – it is all worth it.”

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Tips to Overcome Fear of Public Speaking

Public Speaking for Entrepreneurs #publicspeaking #presentationskills #presentationtips

According to The Book of Lists, fear of public speaking ranks number one in the minds of a lot folks…

Early in my career, I was asked to give a presentation on behalf of the company (actually, I was elected by default as no one else wanted to do it).  I was young and it involved a glorious overnight stay at Motel 6, so why not.   The last time I had spoken in public was a 4th grade reading of the Ride of Paul Revere – and to be honest that wasn’t so great, but hey I was 9, cut me some slack.

My presentation was as part of a business panel.  I had the concept of the presentation in my head and figured I’d just wing it.  (Really, first time speaking as a business professional and I’m gonna wing – smooth move!). My presentation followed a competitor’s whose presentation covered pretty much all the ideas in my head and he had Power Point.  I honestly don’t remember what I said, but it wasn’t good.  Needless to say I was never asked to speak again on behalf of that company.

I didn’t have a formal presentation, I didn’t practice and I didn’t have a backup plan.

Years and many companies later, I speak publicly and actually enjoy it.  How did I get here?  Practice and the willingness to speak at the opening of an envelope (for awhile).  So I thought I’d share some tips I’ve learned along the way.

Don’t wing it.  Seriously, DON”T!  –  I am subjected to a lot of business presentations and amazed at all the very talented entrepreneurs who are well versed in the field but wing the presentation.  Yes, there is a need to be able to speak extemporaneously, but not when you have advanced notice.  The result is often a rambling discourse that covers all the bases but the longest 15 minutes your audience will ever have to endure.  And as for speaking from the cuff, that is why we have prepared “Elevator Pitches.”

Do you homework – Know your audience.  How much do they know about the topic?  Why are they here and what do they hope to get.  Have several versions geared to different audiences and their knowledge levels.

Stop already – One thing I’ve noticed is many speakers don’t know how to wrap up, so they don’t.  Less is More – say what you came to say and wrap it up.  Be especially sensitive to time constraints if there are other speakers.

Use visuals – It help illustrates the point and the slides can help keep you on topic.

Have fun – I was at a recent presentation where obviously the speaker was nervous and fixated on getting through the ordeal.  She wasn’t having fun, and neither were we.

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Marketing Plan & Positioning

A market plan identifies (through market research) unmet needs in the marketplace and provides a strategic guideline as to how the organization intends to provide an offering (product or service) to fulfill these needs while generating a profitable rate of return. It will indicate the position, or market “niche”, for the organization and identify the necessary resources to implement the marketing strategy. And finally, the market plan becomes a useful benchmark for which to measure the success of the organization’s marketing strategies. #marketplan #marketingplan

A market plan identifies (through market research) unmet needs in the marketplace and provides a strategic guideline for its marketing strategy

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